Unintended pregnancies are unplanned, unwanted, or mistimed pregnancies due to the lack of contraceptive use or the incorrect or inconsistent use thereof, among other reasons.
Among college students who may be in the middle of earning their bachelor’s degree, this isn’t exactly uncommon.
An unplanned pregnancy is when no children or no more children are desired for whatever reason. A mistimed pregnancy is when it occurs earlier than desired, although a child or children may be in your plans.
If you face an unplanned pregnancy or know somebody who does, remember that it is neither the first nor the last life-changing situation of its kind!
The typical college experience includes many young women being independent, perhaps living on their own, and engaging in more self-explorations, including increased sexual intercourse activity. As a result, they become pregnant.
The statistics are sobering: More than 2 million American and African American women in the US within the 18-24 age bracket get pregnant in college every year.
Approximately 26% of undergraduate students have children, or over 4.8 million students today! But not all unplanned pregnancy incidents result in birth – about 40% of them end in abortion.
While an unplanned pregnancy will throw a monkey’s wrench in your well-laid plans, it isn’t the world’s end! You will find numerous support services to make your unplanned pregnancy easier. Your first step is to accept your current situation and move forward with a plan, including asking for support from your family, friends and your baby’s father. You will also find support services from third parties like government agencies and private organizations.
Providing Support to a Family or Friend Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy
Be part of her support system by being available for physical and emotional support! Sometimes, families simply need to listen to her talk about her fears for the future – and without judgment.
Imagine her fear of the repercussions of not earning that bachelor’s degree or putting her academic goals on hold! Family members need to emphasize that even when she did become pregnant in college, she is loved and supported.
Now more than ever, parents have to be attuned to her emotions, respond accordingly, and offer specific assistance like finding the best resources for pregnant students. Families may also set up a support system with her trusted friends with her express permission.
Best 20 Resources for College Students With Unplanned Pregnancy (Consisting of Organizations, Help Centers, Adoption Offices, Support Groups, and Reading Resources and Guides)
Planned Parenthood is among the best-known organizations that offer direct reproductive healthcare services and sex education for women of all ages in more than 600 health clinics across the US.
The non-profit organization is also known for its notable contributions to reproductive technology research and advocacy for reproductive rights, including its protection and expansion.
As its name implies, Planned Parenthood also offers services relevant to planning parenthood, including birth control options and emergency contraception. Information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is also provided for disease control.
Known for its pro-choice stand, the Guttmacher Institute provides research materials and educational services to promote reproductive health and sexual rights.
Its advocacies in program and policy reforms are primarily conducted through its extensive research studies and its comprehensive list of the health policies and practices across the US.
Information about state laws on pregnancy and abortion, including insurance coverage, is listed as crucial topics on its official website. See the recent posts on the site to learn more topics besides contraception and STDs.
Being pregnant while in college can make you feel alone, but it doesn’t have to be with the Standing With You organization’s useful information on resources. The website is a national database of resources where organizations’ contact information and services are offered.
Women of all ages—college students included—are welcome to these services, and it doesn’t matter if it’s their first or second unplanned pregnancy.
The database is also organized according to local or national resources, with users either using the state-based or keyword-based search feature. Recent posts and information about resources related to clothing/food assistance, housing, insurance, financial assistance, and child care are also available.
Established in 1980, NCFA is a non-profit organization composed of adoption professionals supporting families and children, partly through education-related programs for the public, policymakers, and media.
The organization is a leading authority on domestic, foster care, and international adoption that cater to the needs of birth and adoptive families, adopted persons, and adoption professionals.
Adoption professionals are also available for various services, including placement services, home studies, and post-adoption support.
You can see on the site’s recent posts about how to become connected with active online communities that provide services for expectant mothers, such as Birth Mom Buds, On Your Feet Foundation, and Sallys Lambs.
Young women looking for a national database for the contact information of organizations and programs that offer services for unplanned pregnancy will find the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory useful. Aside from private entities, the programs offered by government agencies at the state and federal levels are also in the database.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway is the connection that serves as the bridge between child welfare professionals and individuals interested in information about adoption and other topics.
The recent posts and information about support groups, adoption agencies, and youth-specific organizations are of utmost importance to college students with an unplanned pregnancy. Narrow down the search area by state and category, too.
With offices across the US except in New Jersey and New York, American Adoptions is a fully-licensed adoption agency with a proven track record for reliability, thanks to 300+ domestic adoptions annually.
With lower waiting times, better social work support, and 24/7 availability, young mothers looking for a better adoption experience will likely find it here.
You also assure that your baby will be matched with the best adoptive family possible and, thus, set your mind at peace with your decision. American Adoptions uses an advanced screening and matching process for this purpose.
Planned Parenthood affiliates, private and non-profit clinics, hospitals, physicians” offices, and women’s health centers are among the members of the NAF, the professional organization of providers of abortion-related services.
Direct patient services are provided to women of all ages facing an unplanned pregnancy, from abortion referrals to financial assistance.
Women considering abortion should complete a screening tool/questionnaire to determine their specific circumstances, such as income and living situation.
Their eligibility can then be determined, and the appropriate assistance can be provided promptly. Eligible patients are guided in planning and managing their abortion care, usually via a case manager.
Young pregnant women can rely on The Alpha Center for its confidential resources and services that support their challenging journey.
All its services are free, too, meaning it’s money that can be used for other equally important purposes like saving your future.
The Alpha Center provides chlamydia treatment and referral services for other STDs, usually for further evaluation and treatment.
The services offered at Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center are all for free! With centers located in northern New Jersey, it’s accessible to many colleges and universities, and it even provides directions to specific locations.
The center managers can also arrange transportation assistance for college students for their first appointment.
Does your baby’s father have questions, too? The center also provides him with resources, including options counseling!
Confidentiality of client information is a topmost priority and provides the best, free-of-charge resources and services to many or few students with unexpected pregnancies.
CPC is a Christ-centered, non-profit organization that offers services to both men and women since both are affected by unplanned pregnancies. While it neither offers abortion services nor provides abortion referrals, it offers post-abortion care without judgment.
Women have the right to forge their paths, including decisions about their reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes, whether it’s carrying to full term or terminating it. If they so desire, their partners are also encouraged to participate in the decision-making process and, thus, decide in their best interests.
YourChoiceNC.org only offers useful information for unplanned pregnancies – it doesn’t offer, refer and recommend abortion services and abortifacients but offers accurate information about these matters. But post-abortion support is available upon request.
YourChoiceNC.org offers instead lab-quality pregnancy testing for free and limited ultrasound and referrals for community assistance, material assistance, and education and support services.
Part of the non-profit Wheaton Youth Outreach, the Outreach Community Ministries, Inc. has a maternity home known as the Jubilee Village that offers wraparound services for young at-risk women.
The services include safe and secure accommodations, case management, financial planning, job skills training, parenting classes, and counseling services.
Residents must also participate in community meals and case management sessions in the 17-unit apartment buildings.
An independent, non-profit corporation, Support After Abortion, used a research-centered, options-based model that allows its clients to live a life free of the judgment, shame, and guilt of abortion.
Established in 2018 as a grassroots project, it’s now a healing network that collects consumer research and field experiences profoundly impacting abortion-related services.
Support After Abortion also offers virtual support groups that allow young mothers and women with unplanned pregnancies both professional counseling and peer-to-peer support in the comfort of their homes.
AAPLOG is a 2,500-strong professional organization of pro-life members and associates committed to upholding the dignity and value of human life from fertilization onward. College students with unplanned pregnancies can access its directory of physicians and find the best possible healthcare services, including prenatal services.
The importance of prenatal care can’t be overemphasized! Getting reliable information about local pro-life obstetrician-gynecologists in your area is a lifeline.
As a pro-life organization, AAPLOG also provides information about quality research about the adverse effects of abortion on both women and society.
A licensed child welfare agency in Illinois, Caritas Family Solutions is a non-profit organization that offers pregnancy care services for at-risk women facing unplanned pregnancies. Free counseling is also offered, as are community referrals, support on adoption, and assistance with living costs for its clients.
For women at the risk of homelessness or already homeless, among other risky situations, Caritas has its Fontebella Maternity Home that provides safe and secure accommodations.
Residents also receive meals, attend parenting classes, and receive other services that prepare them for independence and success in their future.
The staff members also facilitate reunions with the residents’ estranged families if they desire.
As the only nationally accredited maternity home in the Lone Star State and with a convenient location in Georgetown, the Annunciation Maternity Home offers free services for up to 29 young women and their children. Many residents are college students with unplanned pregnancies, while others are young mothers.
The eligibility requirements are at least 12 years old and either pregnant or raising a child under four months old. Residents can remain in the home until their children reach two years old. Their benefits include long-term housing and assistance with basic needs.
An expecting college student and other residents can also participate in trade school and college programs that ensure their continued education and join life skills classes on financial literacy, parenting, and sewing.
Individual and family counseling services are offered on-site, employment services, and education about options.
Young pregnant women looking for support can call or text GabrielNetwork’s hotline and receive various assistance based on their circumstances. Angel Friends assists with matching clients and donors who provide baby items, from baby clothes and diapers to cribs, car seats and strollers, and even a baby shower.
Maternity housing is also available for pregnant students or women over 18 and their newborn babies and assistance with case management, social services, and classes. Locations are in Gaithersburg, Ellicott City, and Bowie in Maryland.
Residents live in private rooms but share common areas like the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms.
LGH offers a residential program for young women facing an unplanned pregnancy and single mothers with their young children (under six years old) in its Central Virginia location. Residents are between 12 and 21 years old from all walks of life and must be unmarried.
Residents, including their kids six years of age, must attend classes in parenting, adoption, spiritual growth and development, and life skills training, including home management.
Prenatal classes, daily exercise sessions, and outdoor activities are also provided.
Heidi Murkoff created a series of pregnancy and parenting books, including the bestselling What to Expect when you’re Expecting.
Every question that you may have about pregnancy, such as what to eat and not to eat, what your rights as a pregnant student are, and what the signs of pregnancy and labor are, are discussed here.
Check out the WhatToExpect app and the WhatToExpect.com if you’re looking for more information that may not have been covered in the book.
Sometimes, courage in facing the stresses of an unplanned pregnancy comes from reading about real-life stories of young women who conquered their fears!
This is neither pro-choice nor a pro-life book! Instead, its primary aim is education about pregnancy and the risks and rewards of parenting, adoption, and abortion in a non-judgmental manner.
Plus, it’s written so that young women and men will understand regardless of their educational attainment.
Considering Your Best Option in an Unplanned Pregnancy
As a college student with an unplanned pregnancy, only you have the right and responsibility to choose your best option.
Even with a loving family by your side, you may still have a difficult road ahead, from choosing from these three options to dealing with the consequences.
Your life and worldview will change regardless of which option you choose, so it’s crucial to ask for guidance from your parents and friends.
Numerous research studies have shown that many young women students that are expecting choose the parenting option and, thus, take on the lifelong commitment of raising children.
While these will impact your ability to take classes and earn a college degree within your original timeline, it’s a doable challenge!
Pregnant students will likely find on-campus resources, including financial assistance programs for pregnant students and single parents, which are provided under Title IX rights.
These programs cover scholarships, housing and food assistance, and even child care subsidies, making it easier to move forward with your plans for higher education.
Parenting may not be your best option, but you don’t want to have an abortion because a child’s life is involved. Your child will have a loving family who will be able to give them a good future while you can pursue your dreams. But whatever your reasons, you must also ask yourself crucial questions:
- Do you have reliable, relevant, and sufficient information about adoption?
- Are you willing to let someone else raise your child?
- What are your plans for college?
If termination is your best option, you must act quickly – abortion is a time-sensitive choice with government regulations that influence when, where, and why termination can be done.
The cost varies from $750 to $1,500 depending on the gestation period, your insurance coverage, and the type of abortion.
For pregnant students who don’t have the financial support or the insurance, they can seek assistance for out-of-pocket costs, such as with the Financial Resources for Abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your state’s abortion laws?
- Do you have the financial resources for an abortion?
- Can you skip some classes for abortion-related appointments?
Ask for information from your university’s clinic or ask an obstetrician-gynecologist about your options. You may also check out abortion laws by the state on this site, but many states limit abortions to 24 weeks of gestation.
Discussing Your Unplanned Pregnancy with Family and Friends
Nobody said it would be easy telling your parents about your unplanned pregnancy! But it’s a crucial step toward making the right decision for you and your ability to move forward with your life, whatever your final decision may be. Fortunately, some steps will make it easier to cross the bridge as a pregnant student!
Take a Pregnancy Test
False pregnancy is real, and it has the same signs as a positive pregnancy! Be sure to take a home pregnancy test first before taking the next steps, preferably an in-clinic pregnancy test for 100% confirmation. Just don’t get ahead of yourself just yet.
Examine Your Feelings
Once you have confirmation, you’re allowed to go into a rollercoaster of emotions because it’s not just big news. It’s also the hormones at work. But you must compose yourself and think and examine your feelings about your unplanned pregnancy.
You will likely feel afraid, anxious, and even depressed about it but remember that you’re not alone! If it’s any consolation, about half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned, and there are plenty of resources for pregnant college students.
After dealing with your emotions, you will be able to talk to your parents and your child’s father about your options more rationally.
Identify Your Trusted Persons
Suppose you’re not yet ready to talk to your parents and family. You can seek out trustworthy persons, such as your circle of friends and your doctor. You don’t need to announce it on social media either because you want a strong support system around you, not the world’s validation.
You will also need their support in various forms, from emotional support and referrals to financial assistance, and even childcare.
Practice Your Talk
Now that you’ve identified the persons you want to know about your unplanned pregnancy. Practice what you wish to say to them. While Murphy’s Law may apply, you’re at least ready with the words you want to say to your parents, family and friends, and your baby’s father.
You will likely have different words for each person or group, but it will boil down to seeking their support.
Seek to Understand, Ask for Understanding
With an unplanned pregnancy in college, parents and other people’s first reaction will be negative – anger, disappointment, and anxiety are common. But pregnant students must strive to understand their reactions because these are normal feelings, not to mention that they have yet to process the news.
Once you have broken the news of your unplanned pregnancy, you will have more factors to consider when choosing between parenting, adoption, or abortion.
Coping with Your Roller-coaster of Emotions
These mood swings are in addition to the physical symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, which won’t make life easier as a college student.
The good news? There are effective steps in dealing with the roller-coaster of emotions and still function as pregnant students!
- Acknowledge your feelings, including shock, because it’s the first step toward acceptance.
- Write down your feelings if you’re inclined to do so. Treat it like a pregnancy journal if you choose to keep your baby.
- Take time out for enjoyable activities that will nurture your mind and body, such as a hobby, light exercise, and lunch date with friends.
- Keep your needs as your highest priority. Say “no” if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and it’s understandable considering you’re a pregnant woman.
- Eat a healthy diet; exercise for your good health and happy hormones, and sleep for 6-8 hours every night.
- Talking to your family and friends, your baby’s father, and professional counselors goes a long way.
Mood swings can happen during the entirety of your pregnancy because of hormonal changes, stress and anxiety, and physical changes – or these may occur only during your first trimester and toward the end of your pregnancy!
But these don’t cause concern unless you’re experiencing the symptoms of maternal depression – in which case, you must seek professional help!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can you go if you’re facing homelessness like many pregnant students?
Maternity homes are excellent places for college students facing an unplanned pregnancy who face the threat of homelessness or seek refuge from a dysfunctional or non-committed relationship, including abuse from their parents and partners. Unlike in bygone eras, these aren’t secretive homes where unwed mothers are kept hidden!
However, consider that maternity homes have rules and regulations that ensure pregnant students as their residents, typically mothers with their children age six years old, are safe, secure, and healthy.
You will likely be requested to participate in household chores, get along well with the other residents and staff, and follow the rules like a curfew.
Where can you find financial assistance during and after your pregnancy?
Your option – parenting, adoption, or abortion – will open up specific forms of financial assistance that will simplify your pockets.
If you choose to parent, you should check your medical insurance coverage since it may be sufficient for your prenatal and childbirth expenses. Check out Medicaid if you don’t have a private insurance plan and if you’re a low-income individual.
The adoption route can mean financial assistance for your unplanned pregnancy- and adoption-related expenses from the adoption agency or the adoptive parents. The coverage usually includes food, rent and utilities, transportation to appointments, medical and hospital bills, and legal fees.
Your current situation and your state’s laws significantly influence the type and amount of financial support you will get, but be sure to put it in writing for your protection.
If abortion is your chosen route, you can also ask about insurance coverage. Many organizations offer a database of abortion funding sources even for a college student, such as the National Network of Abortion Funds and Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project.
What are the types of support groups available for pregnant students in college?
In-person support groups for pregnant students are highly recommended because of the face-to-face interactions and human touch. Women’s assistance groups, churches, and community organizations are good places to find them, in addition to on-campus resources at your university.
Both are great options. But if you talk with a professional counselor, you will be in a better place. You don’t even have to pay for their services!
Why is the identity of a legal father important?
A mother is the only legal parent for a child born to an unmarried woman. If a legal father for the child cannot be identified, paternity may have to be established in the child’s life so that the child enjoys the following rights:
- Identity with both parents’ names on the child’s birth certificate, whether or not both are in a committed relationship
- Legal benefits include the right to medical and life insurance, social security benefits, child support, and inheritance rights
- Information about both parents’ medical history
- While an unplanned pregnancy has its challenges, it isn’t the end of your bright future! There are plenty of useful resources that will make your journey rewarding, regardless of your choice.
- When pregnant in college, seek support from your family and friends first, then look for various assistance from government agencies and non-profit organizations.
- Take care of yourself. Whether you have a loving family or not, only you have the power to make the right decisions for yourself and your child’s life!